Coakley in Linz delight
DENIS COAKLEY, the 29-year-old Waterford rider who has been nicknamed Denis the Menace this season due to his success on the home circuit, trounced the opposition to take the Grand Prix in Linz, Austria yesterday.
Coakley made his Nations Cup debut with O'Brien Office Systems Clover Hill gelding Toshiba Dreampoint on Friday, making the right impression to contribute to Ireland's fourth placing.
The track was more challenging yesterday, and only nine of the 52 starters survived to jump off against the clock.
Fellow Waterford-man Francis Connors, who had also acquitted himself well in the team competition two days earlier, was first into the jump-off and the six-time Irish national champion looked to have set a strong target when galloping home in 39.58 seconds with the Cruising mare, Cruiseway.
But this was to be decimated as the remaining eight runners threw caution to the wind and it was Germany's Hendrik Engemann and Iris who were holding the advantage with a clear result in 36.68 when Coakley entered the ring, third last to go.
``I didn't see the leader's round so I just had to go with my planned route and it came up just right,'' he said afterwards.
Coakley has always shown natural talent, but it is only since he began receiving ``helpful advice'' from army trainer Capt John Ledingham over the last year that his undisciplined style was transformed to great effect.
He has blazed a trail through the 2000 Grand Prix circuit with wins at Stepaside, Blessington, Charleleville and Waterford before taking both the Masters and Grand Prix titles at Millstreet, and yesterday the nine-year-old Toshiba Dreampoint once again gave it everything as he twisted and turned his way home in 36.57 seconds to snatch victory.
Engemann had to settle for second while Connors slotted into sixth. For Coakley, this win qualifies him for entry to any CSIO Grand Prix in the coming year, opening up new horizons to this exciting partnership.
Meanwhile, at the 4-Star Pedigree Horse Trials in Burghley, where Sydney-bound New Zealander Andrew Nicholson came out on top with Mr Smiffy, Ireland's Eric Smiley finished seventh with Irish Patriot having improved from 22nd after dressage to tenth after cross-country.
SWIMMING: Mongey's Liffey win
BRIAN MONGEY of Millennium produced an excellent finish to win the Toyota Liffey Swim on Saturday by just one second from Bert O'Brien (Sandycove), the same place he finished some 34 years ago.
The most coveted race on the outdoor swim calander is run over a one and a half mile course from Watling Street Bridge to Customs House Quay and is handicapped. Mongey left 3 mins 15 secs after the `go men' while O'Brien left 30 seconds earlier. More than a mile down the river, going into O'Connell Bridge, O'Brien held a 25m lead.
That remained the case to Butt Bridge, but in the final 100m, Mongey began to close the gap and, with a final flourish, snatched the win by a mere second in atotal time of 29 mins 31 secs - a credit to handicapperJoe Brown.
Although former Olympic swimmer Kevin Williamson (Terenure) did not figure in the final placings off a handicap of 6 mins 45 secs, he recorded the fastest time in the race (23:29). A remarkable performance from the Montrael and Moscow Olympian who is still out-performing many of the top swimmers.
HOCKEY: Glenane take cup
GLENANNE, the All-Ireland league champions in men's hockey, started their pre-season preparations on a winning note when they lifted the annual Budweiser Super Cup for the first time when beating Cork C of I in a sudden death penalty shoot-out at Grange Road yesterday.
The finish to this three day tournament always looked destined to go to the wire when John Jermyn equalised for C of I midway through the second half after Devon Keogh had given Glens a first half lead from a short corner.
Paul Bastable in the Glenanne goal pulled off two brilliant saves in the protracted penalty decider which ended in their favour when C of I's Richie Dornan sent his effort wide from the spot.
There was no joy either for the C of I women who went down 3-0 to Ards in the women's final.
CANOEING: Mawer must wait
IRISH canoeist, Gary Mawer, faces an anxious wait before learning if he is become a late addition to the Irish Olympic team for Sydney, writes Tom O'Riordan.
The Olympic Council have been informed that Mawer has been granted a wild card entry for the 500 and 1,000 K2 events which he contested in Atlanta four years ago.
Now the Executive Committee of the OCI will discuss the matter this evening before deciding whether to add the 30-year-old Mawer to the team.
Mawer is a highly experienced competitor having also competed in the World Championships.
COMMUNITY GAMES: Aisling a real diamond
THE ESB Community Games finals drew to a close yesterday in Mosney as Ulster gained some satisfaction in the camogie final after Armagh were defeated in the All-Ireland semi-final on Saturday.
Bellaghy from South Derry overcame Galway representatives Mullagh by 3-5 to 1-2 in the Girls U-14 final. Bellaghy midfielder Aisling Diamond was outstanding for the Ulster champions and she was delighted after the final whistle: ``This is a dream come true for me, I was on the team last year and we lost on the final here, but this more than makes up for it. I can't wait to get home to Bellaghy to see my friends, though it looks like most of Bellaghy is here.''
Sarah Delaney from Carberry in Co Kildare triumphed in the U-10 200m and received a congratulatory e-mail from her dad, Peter, who is on duty with the UN Peace Keeping Force in Bosnia.
Over 6,000 children took part in the community games over the two weekends and followed in the footsteps of Sydney going Irish athletes Sonya O Sullivan, Susan Smith-Walsh, Mark Carroll and Terry McHugh who all competed in previous years at Mosney
Dedication to the games was summed up by 12-year-old Kevin Spellman from Bannagher, Co Offaly, who missed his brother's wedding on Saturday so he could compete. And it proved worthwhile yesterday when he won gold in the Boys U-14 100m.